Here’s a bit of Angels news that surfaced today and should immediately enter the annals of team lore, but this piece of team history and trivia isn’t of the “oh, that’s a neat bit of info” variety, but the ”OMG, THIS TEAM IS KILLING MY WILL TO LIVE” kind. Do you remember when the Angels and Mike Trout came to a deal on his six-year extension, that would have him signed through 2020? It was a great day to be an Angels fan, because they locked up the burgeoning baseball legend for $144.5 million while buying out two years of what could have been his free agency.
It’s hard to not like what the Halos did there, getting that lightning that Eddie Bane caught in a bottle, and making sure it doesn’t hit free agency till 2020 instead of 2017, but it was also a pretty big payday for Trout, so there was a sense that everybody walked away happy.
Notice how I said it’s “hard” not to like that extension, not “impossible”...because there IS one way, one circumstance, in which that 2014 negotiation could make me HATE that deal with the fire of a thousand suns, I just didn’t know this particular circumstance existed until today.
If Mike Trout wanted to sign a “lifetime” deal with the Angels (meaning 14 or 15 years), and Arte Moreno said “No”, then suddenly that six-year extension becomes one of the dumbest things I’ve ever seen from this team. According to a Jon Heyman piece from earlier today, that’s exactly what happened, and I’m now having to write this article using voice-to-text tools because I’m so filled with instant rage that I can only see red right now.
Trout was the one exception, and in three years he’ll be a free agent barring a new try by the Angels. Trout set himself up for life with that rare, record six-year deal and will have a “second bite at the apple,” after he broached an extreme mega deal in talks (14 or 15 years, according to people familiar with those talks) before word came back that Angels owner Arte Moreno decided not to go for the lifetime deal for the two-year superstar, but hardly anyone’s repeating that strategy. It’s no certainty they would have been able to work it out the super mega deal, anyway, as Trout seemed pleased at the middle ground of six. But it was quite an interesting thought put forth by Trout’s side.
Man, here I was having a nice day, and all of a sudden I feel ill. The Angels had the best player in the universe asking to be with them for not only his youthful seasons, but for also his prime, late 20s/early 30s years, and they were like “Nah, that’s too long. We don’t like having good players for that long, it makes us nervous.” I’m guessing that was the rationale, at least, since they had no problems signing up a declining Albert Pujols to a ten-year deal. Who am I kidding? There was NO rationale in that decision. Period.
It’s not like the Angels didn’t know what they had on their hands yet, either. When these talks were going on, Trout had already completed his age 20 & 21 seasons, during which he won a Rookie of the Year award, and came in 2nd in AL MVP voting not once, but twice. The writing was on the wall; he was going to change the game of baseball forever. On top of that, it was HIS idea...he was the one that floated it to the team, and they shot it down.
The Angels then tried to go for something in the 7-9 year range, but the two sides agreed on six years. I know that we’re still supposed to be able to look back at this whole ordeal and be happy with what we got, but imagine a world in which we knew the Angels had time to build around him. Imagine us not having to preemptively worry about where he’ll go once he does hit free agency after 2020. The Halos and us fans could be resting easy right now, knowing Trout wasn’t going anywhere, and there’d be time yet to put some great teams around him and win some real October hardware.
Nope. Arte Moreno said no. This is going to sting for awhile, folks. My only chance at being able to live with this knowledge is that, as Heyman noted in his article, we don’t know for sure that they could have worked out a deal this big to begin with, so I am clinging on to that thought for dear life. It’s all I’ve got keeping my sanity in check right now. The only other option is facing this living nightmare, a world in which the Halos could have had Trout all to themselves, forever...and Arte Moreno said “No.” I shudder at the thought.